If you’ve been in an accident involving a motor vehicle, you know how traumatic it can be. Perhaps your car suffered damage. Maybe you and/or your loved ones were injured. The foreseeable future may be filled with car repairs, medical appointments, missed work and sleepless nights, plus insurance companies and lawyers. What if, however, the accident didn’t involve another car? What if, for example, you were involved in a bus accident? Things will probably become even more complicated. That’s when it’s a good time it hire a bus accident lawyer in New Jersey.
Why do I need a bus accident attorney?
Note we said a bus accident lawyer in New Jersey, not simply a motor vehicle accident attorney. Does it make a difference? Yes, and for a number of reasons.
There are several reasons you want a bus accident lawyer in New Jersey rather than simply a general personal injury or motor vehicle accident (MVA) attorney. The primary one? A bus accident usually involves many more moving parts, so to speak, than a car crash. Furthermore, the legal and insurance issues you may encounter can be complicated, even confusing, depending on how you were involved in the accident. Factors that impact how a case should be handled include:
- Were you a driver of a car that crashed with the bus? Were you at fault?
- Were you a passenger in that car?
- Were you a passenger in a bus that was hit by/hit another car? What happens if there was no other vehicle involved?
- Or were you a pedestrian the bus hit or simply in another vehicle that got caught up in the accident?
Each of these scenarios presents its own set of issues and problems that an inexperienced attorney may not be able to identify.
Isn’t my insurance company enough?
We’re aware that there are those who assume there is no need for a lawyer. After all, they ask, isn’t everything going to be handled by an insurance company? Although it is true that one (or probably more) insurance companies will be involved to deal with what could be multiple claims arising from the bus accident, it is also true that you are not the insurer’s first priority.
The claims adjuster works for a company that is profit driven and must answer to its shareholders. To satisfy them, the company must turn a profit which, as it turns out, conflicts with the notion that you should be compensated as much as possible for your loss. As a result, an insurance company won’t pursue that outcome. A bus accident lawyer in New Jersey will.
Even if you have full faith in your own insurer to get the best result available to you, remember that there are other parties involved. The operator of the bus line rarely has any incentive to make things easy for you, especially if its lawyers assert that the bus driver was not at fault. Similarly, if the accident was caused by another vehicle and you were among many passengers on the bus who were injured, your claim will be given no more priority than all the other passengers by the insurance company of the car involved.
How can a lawyer help my situation?
In order to increase your understanding of why you should hire a bus accident lawyer in New Jersey, let’s look at various ways you might be in an accident involving a bus:
1) Your car vs. the bus. This example is probably the most common. Regardless of whether you or the bus driver were at fault, the battle lines are fairly clearly drawn between you and the bus line. However, the more passengers the bus contained, the more complicated things will become.
- You can expect insurance claims to be filed by everyone who was injured (or claims they were).
- Each passenger will have his or own agenda and make claims for medical costs, time lost from work and other physical and emotional damages that they claim the accident caused.
- A bus accident lawyer in New Jersey will help protect your rights, preserve your interests and pursue the damages to which you may be entitled.
2) Your car vs. the bus because of another vehicle. Many people are involved in motor vehicle accidents without being an active participant. Say, for example, the car behind you is rear-ended by a bus and is forced into the back end of yours. Clearly you have no liability in this case but your car has been damaged and you may even have suffered an injury.
- Against whom do you make an insurance claim?
- Who will be responsible for your repair and medical bills?
3) You were a passenger in the car. Again, proof that life happens to you in ways you don’t intend (and almost always can’t predict). Having had absolutely no say in the matter, you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a bus.
- Again, who will cover your medical costs and lost wages, if any?
- A bus accident lawyer in New Jersey will sort it out and represent your interests, not those of whatever insurance company is ultimately determined to be responsible.
4) You were a passenger on the bus. If this applies to your situation, you will definitely benefit from having a bus accident lawyer in New Jersey. You’ll be making one of many claims against the insurer for the responsible party (the driver of either the bus or the other car, if there was one). The insurer will attempt to look for similarities among all of the claims as it tries to craft a uniform settlement, one that is as low as possible.
- This is ridiculous of course, as whatever injuries suffered and expenses incurred by the other passengers have absolutely no relevance to yours.
- Receiving damages to which you are entitled requires a bus accident lawyer in New Jersey who aggressively pursues your case.
5) You or a loved one were a pedestrian standing at the curb or crossing the street and were struck by a bus. Unfortunately, this scenario usually involves significant injury, sometimes even death. When serious injury or death occur, it’s imperative that a bus accident lawyer in New Jersey be hired as quickly as possible. Memory fades over time and evidence has a tendency to disappear. A lawyer hired early in the process can gather information and preserve evidence that may become essential to your case.
Regardless of which of the above examples apply to you, there are some general reasons you should have a bus accident lawyer in New Jersey in your corner:
- The severity of an injury may not be immediately apparent. For example, the symptoms of whiplash or other soft tissue damage can take days, weeks and in some cases even months to fully develop. By that time you may have settled out your insurance claim and signed away your right to take any further action.
- Similarly, an injury diagnosed soon after the accident may worsen or aggravate one or more preexisting conditions resulting in greater medical expenses down the road.
- If the injury is severe or worsens over time, you may be unable to work for who knows how long. While your income stops, your living expenses won’t. Can you really afford that level of uncertainty and the stress it brings?
6) The bus is owned or operated by a public entity. Many bus lines in New Jersey are operated by or on behalf of New Jersey Transit, a public entity. Special laws and shorter deadlines for pursuing a claim against a public entity apply. Only an experienced New Jersey bus accident attorney can guide you through this complex process.